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Zionism’s Violent Legacy

By Donald Neff | INSTITUTE FOR HISTORICAL REVIEW

On January 4, 1948, Jewish terrorists drove a truck loaded with explosives into the center of the all Arab city of Jaffa and detonated it, killing 26 and wounding around 100 Palestinian men, women and children.[1] The attack was the work of the Irgun Zvai Leumi – the “National Military Organization,” also known by the Hebrew letters Etzel – the largest Jewish terrorist group in Palestine. The Irgun was headed by Revisionist Zionist Menachem Begin and had been killing and maiming Arabs, Britons and even Jews for the previous ten years in its efforts to establish a Jewish state.

This terror campaign meant that at the core of Revisionist Zionism there existed a philosophical embrace of violence. It was this legacy of violence that contributed to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995.

The Irgun was not the only Jewish terrorist group but it was the most active in causing indiscriminate terror in pre-Israel Palestine. Up to the time of the Jaffa attack, its most spectacular feat had been the July 22, 1946, blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with the killing of 91 people – 41 Arabs, 28 Britons and 17 Jews.[2]

The other major Jewish terrorist group operating in Palestine in the 1940s was the Lohamei Herut Israel – “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel,” Lehi in the Hebrew acronym – also known as the Stern Gang after its fanatical founder Avraham Stern. Two of its more spectacular outrages included the assassination of British Colonial Secretary Lord Moyne in Cairo on November 6, 1944, and the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden in Jerusalem on September 17, 1948.[3]

Both groups collaborated in the massacre at Deir Yassin, in which some 254 Palestinian men, women and children were slain on April 9, 1948. Palestinian survivors were driven like ancient slaves through the streets of Jerusalem by the celebrating terrorists.[4]

Yitzhak Shamir was one of the three leaders of Lehi who made the decision to assassinate Moyne and Bernadotte. Both he and Begin later became prime ministers and ruled Israel for a total of 13 years between 1977 and 1992. They were both leaders of Revisionist Zionism, that messianic group of ultranationalists founded by Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky in the 1920s. He prophesied that it would take an “iron wall of Jewish bayonets” to gain a homeland among the Arabs in Palestine.[5] His followers took his slogan literally.

Begin and the Revisionists were heartily hated by the mainline Zionists led by David Ben-Gurion. He routinely referred to Begin as a Nazi and compared him to Hitler. In a famous letter to The New York Times in 1948, Albert Einstein called the Irgun “a terrorist, rightwing, chauvinist organization” that stood for “ultranationalism, religious mysticism and racial superiority.”[6] He opposed Begin’s visit to the United States in 1949 because Begin and his movement amounted to “a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a ‘leader state’ is the goal,” adding:

The IZL [Irgun] and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window smashing, and widespread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

Ben-Gurion considered the Revisionists so threatening that shortly after he proclaimed establishment of Israel on May 14, 1948, he demanded that the Jewish terrorist organizations disband. In defiance, Begin sought to import a huge shipment of weapons aboard a ship named Altalena, Jabotinsky’s nom de plume.[7]

The ship was a war surplus US tank landing craft and had been donated to the Irgun by Hillel Kook’s Hebrew Committee for National Liberation, an American organization made up of Jewish-American supporters of the Irgun.[8] Even in those days it was Jewish Americans who were the main source of funds for Zionism. While few of them emigrated to Israel, Jewish Americans were generous in financing the Zionist enterprise. As in Israel, they were split between mainstream Zionism and Revisionism. One of the best known Revisionists was Ben Hecht, the American newsman and playwright. After one of the Irgun’s terrorist acts, he wrote:[9]

The Jews of America are for you. You are their champions … Every time you blow up a British arsenal, or wreck a British jail, or send a British railroad train sky high, or rob a British bank, or let go with your guns and bombs at British betrayers and invaders of your homeland, the Jews of America make a little holiday in their hearts.

The Altalena was loaded with $5 million worth of arms, including 5,000 British Lee Enfield rifles, more than three million rounds of ammunition, 250 Bren guns, 250 Sten guns, 150 German Spandau machine guns, 50 mortars and 5,000 shells as well as 940 Jewish volunteers. Ben-Gurion reacted with fury, ordering the ship sunk in Tel Aviv harbor. Shell fire by the new nation’s armed forces set the Altalena afire, killing 14 Jews and wounding 69. Two regular army men were killed and six wounded during the fighting.[10] Begin had been aboard but escaped injury. Later that night he railed against Ben-Gurion as “a crazy dictator” and the cabinet as “a government of criminal tyrants, traitors and fratricides.”[11]

Ben-Gurion’s deputy commander in the Altalena affair was Yitzhak Rabin, the same man who as prime minister was assassinated by one of the spiritual heirs of Menachem Begin’s Irgun terrorist group. All his life, and especially in his last years, Rabin had opposed Jewish-Americans and their radical allies in Israel who continued to embrace the philosophy of the Irgun and who fought against the peace process, thereby earning their enduring hatred.

Thus at the heart of the Jewish state there has been a long and violent struggle between mainline Zionists and Revisionists that continues today. Despite cries after Rabin’s assassination that it was unknown for Jew to kill Jew, intramural hatred and occasional violence have marked relations between Zionism’s competing groups.

The core of that conflict, one that continues to divide Israel and its American supporters as well, lies in the different philosophies of David Ben-Gurion and Vladimir Jabotinsky. Both were from Eastern Europe, born in the 1880s, and both sought an exclusivist Jewish state. But while Ben-Gurion was pragmatic and secular, Jabotinsky was impatient and messianic, a leader who glorified in the heroic trappings of fascism. Ben-Gurion was usually willing to take less now to get more later, and thus he was content to accept partition of Palestine as a necessary stepping stone toward a larger Jewish state. Jabotinsky, on the other hand, impatiently preached the right of Jews not only to all of Palestine but to “both sides of the Jordan,” meaning the combined area of Jordan and Palestine, or as he called it, Eretz Yisrael, the ancient land of Israel.[12]

Ben-Gurion was a gruff realist who carefully calculated his moves with a wary eye toward the interests of the great European powers and the United States. Time magazine, in a profile of Ben-Gurion in August 1948, described him as “premier and defense minister, labor leader and philosopher, hardheaded, unsociable and abrupt politician, a prophet who carries a gun.[13] Wrote his biographer, Michael Bar-Zohar: “Obstinacy and total dedication to a single objective were the most characteristic traits of David Ben-Gurion.”[14]

Jabotinsky, by contrast, was flamboyant and a devoted admirer of Italy’s fascist leader Benito Mussolini. His disciple, Menachem Begin, described him as “a speaker, a writer, a philosopher, a statesman, a soldier, a linguist … But to those of us who were his pupils, he was not only their teacher, but also the bearer of their hope.” Begin’s biographer, Eric Silver, added: “There was a darker side to [Jabotinsky’s] philosophy: blood, fire and steel, the supremacy of the leader, discipline and ceremony, the manipulation of the masses, racial exclusivity as the heart of the nation.[15] One of Jabotinsky’s slogans was: “We shall create, with sweat and blood, a race of men, strong, brave and cruel.”[16]

Jabotinsky died in 1940, and it was Menachem Begin who refined his wild nationalism into practical political action. Begin concluded: “The world does not pity the slaughtered. It only respects those who fight.” He turned Descartes’ famous dictum around, saying: “We fight, therefore we exist.”[17] Central to Begin’s outlook was the concept of the “fighting Jew.” As he wrote:[18]

Out of blood and fire and tears and ashes, a new specimen of human being was born, a specimen completely unknown to the world for over 1,800 years, the “FIGHTING JEW.” It is axiomatic that those who fight have to hate …. We had to hate first and foremost, the horrifying, age-old, inexcusable utter defenselessness of our Jewish people, wandering through millennia, through a cruel world, to the majority of whose inhabitants the defenselessness of the Jews was a standing invitation to massacre them.

From these early leaders of Zionism (Ben-Gurion died in 1973 and Begin in 1992) have emerged their direct descendants in the Israeli political spectrum. Rabin and his successor, Shimon Peres, were both protégés of Ben-Gurion, and have carried on his mainstream secular Zionism. On Jabotinsky’s and Begin’s side, the followers have been Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon and, now, Benjamin Netanyahu, the current leader of the Likud.

Rabin’s Strategy

While the two major factions of Zionism disagree on tactics, their ultimate aim of maintaining a Jewish state free of non-Jews was the same. Rabin explained his strategy shortly before his death during an interview with Rowland Evans and Robert Novak:[19]

I believe that dreams of Jews for two thousand years to return to Zion were to build a Jewish state and not a binational state. Therefore I don’t want to annex the 2.2 million Palestinians who are a different entity from us – politically, religiously, nationally – against their will to become Israelis. Therefore I see peaceful coexistence between Israel as a Jewish state – not all over the land of Israel, on most of it, its capital the united Jerusalem, its security border the Jordan River – next to it a Palestinian entity, less than a state, that runs the life of the Palestinians. It is not ruled by Israel. It is ruled by the Palestinians. This is my goal not to return to the pre-Six-Day-War lines, but to create two entities. I want a separation between Israel and the Palestinians who reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and they will be a different entity that rules itself.

In the Revisionist’s vocabulary, the goal was the same, if more expansionist and expressed in more direct and pugnacious words. Former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, a leading spokesman of Zionism’s right wing, commented in 1993: “Our forefathers did not come here in order to build a democracy but to build a Jewish state.”[20]

The occupation of all of Palestine, including Jerusalem, in the 1967 war and the coming to power a decade later of Menachem Begin gave a profound boost to Revisionism and its radical philosophy. During this period there arose the firebrand Meir Kahane, a Brooklyn-born rabbi who openly espoused the removal of the Palestinians from all of Palestine. Under the influence of his fiery rhetoric, thousands of Orthodox Jewish Americans were encouraged to emigrate to Israel as settlers on occupied Palestinian land, adding to the radicalization of Israeli politics. After Kahane’s assassination in New York in 1990 by an Arab, New York Times correspondent John Kifner reported that Kahane had been successful in the sense that many of his ideas “had crept into the mainstream” in Israel.

Dr. Ehud Sprinzak, an Israeli expert on the far right in Israel, observed: “Where [Kahane] has succeeded is in changing the thinking of many Israelis toward anti-Arab feelings and violence. He forced the more respectable parties to change. In the 1970s Kahane was in the political wilderness, but in the 1980s the center had moved toward Kahane.” Observed the Jewish Telegraph Agency : “Rabbi Kahane could die satisfied that his message has impacted deeply and widely throughout Israeli society.”[21]

By the mid-1990s, even Kahane’s violent ideas seemed somewhat mild in the context of the radicalized politics of Israel. A new strain of religious extremism has been added to the Revisionist ranks. This became obvious on February 25, 1994, when Brooklyn-born Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a Kahane disciple, walked into the Ibrahim mosque, called the Cave of Machpela by Jews, in Hebron and killed 29 and wounded upwards of 150 Palestinian worshippers.[22] While Rabin and labor Zionists condemned him, Goldstein became a hero for Revisionist Zionists. A shrine was made of his grave and a group of Revisionists grew up called “Goldsteiners.” They are dedicated to the “sublime ideals of Goldstein” and urge “all true Jews to follow his footsteps.”[23]

Baruch Goldstein wore a yellow Star of David with the German word for “Jew” to show his ardent concern for the “lessons of the Holocaust” and its meaning for all Jews. Today many hardline Zionists revere this mass murderer of Palestinians as a Jewish hero and martyr.

While the Revisionists had always had an element of religious messianism, the most radical of their current heirs come from ultrareligious Orthodox Jews who are less consumed by politics than religion.[24] They believe they are God’s messengers. Thus Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, cited the authority of God to explain the murder.

This is a sea change in the mindset – if not the violence – of the traditional Revisionists. For instance, in 1943 Yitzhak Shamir ordered the assassination of one of his closest Sternist friends, but offered an entirely different rationale that had nothing to do with God. Mainly the motive stemmed from political and tactical reasons. Shamir wrote in his memoirs, In the Final Analysis, that Stern commander Eliyahu Giladi had become “strange and wild” and had wanted to shoot at crowds of Jews and urged the assassination of David Ben-Gurion, acts that would have been highly unpopular. Wrote Shamir: “I was afraid that he had gone completely crazy. I knew that I had to take a fateful decision, and I didn’t evade it.”[25] Giladi was fatally shot in the back on a beach south of Tel Aviv and his killer was never found.[26]

The new Revisionists have now expanded the right to kill claimed by the early Revisionists in the name of nationalism to include a divine right. In the end, they are less interested in foreign and domestic affairs than in justifying man’s acts to God. It is a powerful and inflammatory mix of nationalism and religion that is almost certain to lead to more violence unless Israel is able to look into its own soul.


Recommended Reading

  • Bar-Zohar, Michael, Ben-Gurion: A Biography, New York: Delacorte, 1978. Begin, Menachem, The Revolt, Los Angeles: Nash, 1972. Bell, J. Bowyer, ‘/error Out of Zion, New York: St. Martin’s, 1977. Ben-Gurion, David, Israel: A Personal History, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, Inc., 1971.
  • Bethell, Nicholas, The Palestine Triangle: The Struggle for the Holy Land, 1935-48, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1979.
  • Brenner, Lenni, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill, 1983.
  • Brenner, Lenni, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, London: Zed Books, 1984.
  • Halsell, Grace, Prophesy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War, Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill, 1986.
  • Khalidi, Walid (ed.), Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians 1876-1948, Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1984.
  • Khalidi, Walid, From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948, Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, second printing, 1987.
  • Marion, Kati, A Death in Jerusalem, New York: Pantheon, 1994.
  • Nakhleh, Issa, Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem (2 vols.), New York: Intercontinental, 1991.
  • Palumbo, Michael, The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland, Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987.
  • Rubinstein, Ammon, The Zionist Dream Revisited, New York: Schocken, 1984.
  • Sachar, Howard M., A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, Tel Aviv: Steimatzky’s Agency, 1976.
  • Silver, Eric, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, New York: Random House, 1984.
  • Tillman, Seth, The United States in the Middle East: Interests and Obstacles, Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1982.

Notes

[1] Sam Pope Brewer, New York Times, Jan. 5, 1948, and Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora, p. 316. Also see Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, pp. 83-4. Initial reports put the death toll at 34.
[2] Bethell, The Palestine Triangle, p. 263; Sachar, A History of Israel, p. 267. Details on the bombing and reaction of British officials are in Nakhleh, Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, pp. 269-70.
[3] Bethell, Palestine Triangle, pp. 181-87, 263; Sachar, A History of Israel, p. 267; Marion, A Death in Jerusalem, p. 208.
[4] Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest, pp. 761-78; Silver, Begin, pp. 88-96; Nakhleh, Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, pp. 271-72.
[5] Silver, Begin, p. 12.
[6] New York Times, Nov. 27, 1948.
[7] Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion, p. 175.
[8] Silver, Begin, p. 98.
[9] Bethell, The Palestine Triangle, pp. 308-9. An interview reflecting Hecht’s views appeared in The New York Times, May 28, 1947.
[10] Silver, Begin, p. 108.
[11] Silver, Begin, p. 108.
[12] In Hebrew, Eretz Yisrael means the “Land of Israel,” a phrase invested with strong nationalist feelings.
[13] Time, August 16, 1948.
[14] Bar-Zohar, Ben Gurian, pp. 77, xvii.
[15] Silver, Begin, p. 11.
[16] Elfi Pallis, “The Likud Party: A Primer,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1992, p. 45.
[17] Begin, The Revolt, pp. 36, 46. Also see Tillman, The United States in the Middle East, p. 20.
[18] Begin, The Revolt, pp. xi-xii. Also see Elfi Pallis, “The Likud Party: A Primer,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1992, p. 45.
[19] Evans and Novak, CNN, Oct. 1, 1995.
[20] Menachem Shalev, Forward, May 21, 1339.
[21] John Kifner, New York Times, Nov. 11, 1990.
[22] David Hoffman, Washington Post, Feb. 28, 1994.
[23] Khalid M. Amayreh, “Six Months On,” Middle East International, Sept. 9, 1994.
[24] Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, p. 75, provides an excellent analysis of the extremist beliefs of Jabotinsky and his followers and their alliance with American fundamentalist Christians such as Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Ml\iority.
[25] Clyde Haberman, New York Times, Jan. 15, 1994.
[26] Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, Nov. 6, 1995.


From The Journal of Historical Review, Jan.-Feb. 1996 (Vol. 16, No. 1), pages 42-45. This item is reprinted from the January 1996 issue of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Washington, DC).

About the Author

Donald Neff is an American journalist and author. For 16 years he worked for Time magazine, including a period as its Bureau Chief in Israel. He also worked for the Washington Star daily newspaper. He is the author of Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy Towards Palestine and Israel Since 1945 (1995), as well as of the 1988 trilogy, Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America Into the Middle East in 1956, Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days that Changed the Middle East, and Warriors Against Israel: America Comes to the Rescue.

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Syrian-Nuke Evidence Was Faked

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | November 19, 2017

When Yousry Abushady studied the highly unusual May 2008 CIA video on a Syrian nuclear reactor that was allegedly under construction when an Israeli jet destroyed it seven months earlier, the senior specialist on North Korean nuclear reactors on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s staff knew that something was very wrong.

Abushady quickly determined that the CIA had been seriously misled by Israeli intelligence and immediately informed the two highest officials of the Vienna-based IAEA, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Deputy Director for Safeguards, Olli Heinonen, that the CIA’s conclusions were not consistent with the most basic technical requirements for such a reactor.

But it did not take long for Abushady to realize that the top IAEA officials were not interested in drawing on his expertise in regard to the alleged Syrian reactor. In fact, the IAEA cited nonexistent evidence linking the site to a Syrian nuclear program while covering up real evidence that would have clearly refuted such a claim, according to Abushady and other former senior IAEA officials.

When Abudhsady met with Heinonen to discuss his analysis of the CIA’s case in May 2008, Abushady asked to be included on the team for the anticipated inspection of the al-Kibar site because of his unique knowledge of that type reactor.

But Heinonen refused his request, citing an unwritten IAEA rule that inspectors are not allowed to carry out inspections in their countries of origin. Abushady objected, pointing out that he is Egyptian, not Syrian, to which Heinonen responded, “But you are an Arab and a Muslim!” according to Abushady.

Heinonen has declined a request for his comment on Abushady’s account of the conversation.

A Curious Inspection

In June 2008, an IAEA team consisting of Heinonen and two other inspectors took environmental samples at the al-Kibar site. In November 2008, the IAEA issued a report saying that laboratory analysis of a number of natural uranium particles collected at the site “indicates that the uranium is anthropogenic,” meaning that it had been processed by humans.

The implication was clearly that this was a reason to believe that the site had been connected with a nuclear program. But former IAEA officials have raised serious questions about Heinonen’s handling of the physical evidence gathered from the Syrian site as well as his characterization of the evidence in that and other IAEA reports.

Tariq Rauf who headed the IAEA’s Verification and Security Policy Coordination Office until 2011, has pointed out that one of the IAEA protocols applicable to these environmental samples is that “the results from all three or four labs to have analyzed the sample must match to give a positive or negative finding on the presence and isotopics or uranium and/or plutonium.”

However, in the Syrian case the laboratories to which the samples had been sent had found no evidence of such man-made uranium in the samples they had tested. ElBaradei himself had announced in late September, three months after the samples had originally been taken but weeks before the report was issued, “So far, we have found no indication of any nuclear material.” So the November 2008 IAEA report claiming a positive finding was not consistent with its protocols.

But the samples had been sent to yet another laboratory, which had come up with a positive test result for a sample, which had then been touted as evidence that the site had held a nuclear reactor. That in itself is an indication that a fundamental IAEA protocol had been violated in the handling of the samples from Syria.

One of the inspectors involved in the IAEA inspection at al-Kibar later revealed to a fellow IAEA inspector what actually happened in the sample collection there. Former senior IAEA inspector Robert Kelley recalled in an interview that, after the last results of the samples from the al-Kibar inspection had come back from all the laboratories, the inspector, Mongolian national Orlokh Dorjkhaidav, came to see him because he was troubled by the results and wanted to tell someone he trusted.

Negative Results

Dorjkhaidav told Kelley that all the samples taken from the ground in the vicinity of the bombed building had tested negative for man-made uranium and that the only sample that had tested positive had been taken in the toilet of the support building.

Dorjkhaidav later left the IAEA and returned to Mongolia, where he died in December 2015. A video obituary for Dorjkhaidav confirmed his participation in the inspection in Syria. Kelley revealed the former inspector’s account to this writer only after Dorjkhaidav’s death.

In an e-mail response to a request for his comment on Kelley’s account of the Syrian environmental samples, Heinonen would neither confirm nor deny that the swipe sample described by Dorjkhaidav had been taken inside the support building. But in January 2013, David Albright, Director of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C., who has co-authored several articles with Heinonen, acknowledged in a commentary on his think tank’s website that the al-Kibar uranium particles had been “found in a changing room in a building associated with the reactor.”

Given the dispersal of any nuclear material around the site by the Israeli bombing, if man-made uranium was present at the site, it should not have shown up only inside the support facility but should have been present in the samples taken from the ground outside.

Former IAEA senior inspector Kelley said in an e-mail that a “very likely explanation” for this anomaly is that it was a case of “cross contamination’ from the inspector’s own clothing. Such cross contamination had occurred in IAEA inspections on a number of occasions, according to both Kelley and Rauf.

Kelley, who had been in charge of inspections in Iraq in the early 1990s, recalled that a set of environmental swipes taken from nuclear facilities that the United States had bombed in Iraq had appeared to show that that Iraq had enriched uranium to 90 percent. But it turned out that they had been taken with swipe paper that had been contaminated accidentally by particles from the IAEA laboratory.

But what bothered Abushady the most was that the IAEA report on Syria had remained silent on the crucial fact that none of the sample results had shown any trace of nuclear-grade graphite.

Abushady recalled that when he challenged Heinonen on the absence of any mention of the nuclear graphite issue in the draft report in a Nov. 13, 2008 meeting, Heinonen said the inspectors had found evidence of graphite but added, “We haven’t confirmed that it was nuclear-grade.”

Abushady retorted, “Do you know what nuclear-grade graphite is? If you found it you would know it immediately.”

Heinonen was invited to comment on Abushady’s account of that meeting for this article but declined to do so.

After learning that the report scheduled to be released in November would be silent on the absence of nuclear graphite, Abushady sent a letter to ElBaradei asking him not to release the report on Syria as it was currently written. Abushady protested the report’s presentation of the environmental sampling results, especially in regard to nuclear-grade graphite.

“In my technical view,” Abushady wrote, “these results are the basis to confirm the contrary, that the site cannot [have been] actually a nuclear reactor.”

But the report was published anyway, and a few days later, ElBaradei’s Special Assistant Graham Andrew responded to Abushady’s message by ordering him to “stop sending e-mails on this subject” and to “respect established lines of responsibility, management and communication.”

A Clear Message

The message was clear: the agency was not interested in his information despite the fact that he knew more about the issue than anyone else in the organization.

At a briefing for Member States on the Syria reactor issue on Feb. 26, 2009, the Egyptian representative to the IAEA confronted Heinonen on the absence of nuclear-grade graphite in the environmental samples. This time, Heinonen had a different explanation for the failure to find any such graphite. He responded that it was “not known whether the graphite was in the building at the time of the destruction,” according to the diplomatic cable reporting on the briefing that was later released by WikiLeaks.

But that response, too, was disingenuous, according to Abushady. “Graphite is a structural part of the reactor core in the gas-cooled reactor,” he explained. “It is not something you add at the end.”

The IAEA remained silent on the question of graphite in nine more reports issued over more than two years. When the IAEA finally mentioned the issue for the first time officially in a May 2011 report, it claimed that the graphite particles were “too small to permit an analysis of the purity compared to that normally required for use in a reactor.”

But American nuclear engineer Behrad Nakhai, who worked at Oak National Laboratories for many years, said in an interview that the laboratories definitely have the ability to determine whether the particles were nuclear grade or not, so the claim “doesn’t make sense.”

News outlets have never reported on the IAEA’s role in helping to cover up the false CIA claim of a North-Korean-style nuclear reactor in the desert by a misleading portrayal of the physical evidence collected in Syria and suppressing the evidence that would have made that role clear.

Heinonen, who was directly responsible for the IAEA’s role in the Syria cover-up, left the IAEA in August 2010 and within a month was given a position at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He has continued to take positions on the Iran nuclear negotiations that were indistinguishable from those of the Netanyahu government. And he is now senior adviser on science and non-proliferation at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank whose positions on the Iran nuclear issues have closely followed those of the Likud governments in Israel.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian on U.S. national security policy and the recipient of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published in 2014.

[For a previous segment of this two-part series, see https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/18/israels-ploy-selling-a-syrian-nuke-strike/]

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guardian, NYT Paint Power-Grabbing Saudi Dictator as Roguish, Visionary ‘Reformer’

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | November 17, 2017

Guardian: Saudi arrests show crown prince is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform

The Guardian (11/5/17)

Two weeks ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman carried out a brutal crackdown on his political opponents, arresting dozens of high-ranking relatives, kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon, and seeing eight of his political rivals die in a convenient helicopter crash. The “consolidation of power” by the de facto Saudi ruler comes as his government ramps up its siege of Yemen and gets even closer to its US sponsor, thanks to a Trump’s dopey love affair with—and direct assistance of—the regime.

The cynical plan has been met, in some media quarters, with condemnation, but for many in the Western press, Mohammed’s self-serving power grab is the action of a bold “reformer,” a roguish bad boy doing the messy but essential work of “reforming” the kingdom—the “anti-corruption” pretext of the purge largely repeated without qualification. The most prominent sources for this spin were two major newspapers, the New York Times and Guardian:

  • Guardian (11/5/17): “Royal Purge Sends Shockwaves Through Saudi Arabia’s Elites: Move Consolidates Power of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as He Attempts to Reform Kingdom’s Economy and Society”
  • Guardian (11/5/17) : “Saudi Arrests Show Crown Prince Is a Risk-Taker With a Zeal for Reform: Mohammed Bin Salman Is Confronting Some of the Kingdom’s Richest and Most Powerful Men in His Anti-Corruption Drive—but Is He Taking on Too Much Too Fast?
  • Guardian (11/6/17): “Oil Price Rises to Two-Year High After Saudi Arabia Purge: Markets Push Price Up to $62 a Barrel After Anti-Corruption Purge by Billionaire Crown Prince Who Backs Prolonging Oil Production Curbs”
  • Guardian  (11/7/17): “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform: Consolidation of Power in Mohammed Bin Salman’s Hands Has Upended All Aspects of Society, Including Previously Untouchable Ultra-Elite
  • New York Times (11/5/17): “Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System”
  • New York Times (11/14/17): “The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Wind”

While the text of the Times articles was far more skeptical about Mohammed’s motives, the Guardian’s (11/5/17) initial coverage of the bloody purge—not just the headlines—was written in breathless press release tones:

Saudi Arabia’s leadership has pulled off its boldest move yet to consolidate power around its young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arresting 11 senior princes, one of the country’s richest men and scores of former ministers in what it billed as a corruption purge.

The move sidelined at least 20 senior figures, among them outspoken billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, sending shockwaves through the ranks of the kingdom’s elites, who had long viewed senior royals as immune.

Lots of glowing prose to unpack here. Longtime Mideast correspondent Martin Chulov began by referring to “Saudi Arabia’s leadership,” which is a nice, sterile way of referencing the country’s unelected hereditary king and crown prince. Then he pivoted into marketing pablum about “bold moves” and “consolidating power,” before unironically framing the purge as an “anti-corruption” gesture designed to stick it to the “kingdom’s elites.” One could come away from reading this lead with the impression that the billionaire aristocrat was a populist folk hero in the vein of Robin Hood or John Dillinger. The thrilling profile continued:

Prince Mohammed will oversee the corruption commission, adding to his already formidable list of responsibilities, including his role as Defense minister and champion of the economic transformation, dubbed Vision 2030, that aims to revolutionize most aspects of Saudi life within 12 years.

Prince Mohammed told the Guardian last month that the kingdom had been “not normal” for the past 30 years and pledged to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.

While the author had a “to be sure” paragraph, citing “others” calling it a “naked attempt to weed out dissent,” the overall thrust of the article was that a roguish billionaire Boy King was earnestly seeking “reform” and opposing “elites.”

A follow-up piece (11/7/17) took flattering coverage to new extremes. The dispatch, again by Chulov, cited nothing but anonymous Saudi court hanger-ons and a Gulf-funded talking head from the NATO-aligned Atlantic Council think tank. The article, “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform,” was populated with blind quotes from such adversarial voices as a “senior minister,” “a senior Saudi official,” a “senior figure,” a “senior Saudi businessman” and “veteran business leaders.” (Evidently no junior officials or rookie business leaders were available for comment.)

The article painted the “consolidation of power” by Mohammed as an inevitability with broad support—using the dubious “reform” narrative without irony. With Guardian editors again painting Mohammed as a populist hero by insisting he “upended” “previously untouchable ultra-elite,” one is left to wonder why they don’t consider the absolute-monarch-in-waiting—who just bought a $590 million yacht—part of the “ultra elite.” It’s a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.

NYT: The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince

The New York Times (6/23/17) 

This was a trope one could see emerging over the past few months. Similar “bold reformer” frames were used in New York Times editorials (“The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince,” 6/23/17) and straight reporting (“Saudi Arabia’s Grand Plan to Move Beyond Oil: Big Goals, Bigger Hurdles,” 10/24/17). Everything’s new and exciting. The brutal, routine functions of the Saudi state are seen as laws of nature—and those in charge of it are the reformers of the very oppression they initially authored.

A Guardian editorial on November 7 was critical of the government, calling it “regressive” and Mohammed “belligerent,” but ultimately rested on “both sides” framing of recent events. The only meaningfully critical coverage of Saudi Arabia coming from the Guardian since the purge has been in two articles (11/12/17, 11/16/17), both in the context of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. Neither mentioned bin Salman, and both stressed how the Saudis are responding in earnest to international pleas to stop their mass-murdering blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country.

Per usual, the Guardian reserves the label “regime” for Official Enemies like Syria and North Korea; Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a regime, it has “leadership.” Unlike adversary governments, often seen in need of “regime change,” the Saudi government merely requires “reform”—and a bold new “reformer,” of the sort championed by the likes of the Guardian and New York Times.


You can send a message to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com , and to the Guardian at guardian.letters@theguardian.com (Twitter@NYTimes, @Guardian). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

War Crimes as Policy

By Mark Taliano | Global Research | November 17, 2017

Despite appearances and differing ideologies, both the Kurds’ SDF and ISIS are Western intelligence assets in Syria. Neither would exist in Syria without the West and its allies, and both serve to destroy the country.

The Empire’s anti-democratic SDF proxies are not defeating the U.S Daesh proxies. They are simply replacing them.

One might reasonably ask how two seemingly opposed terrorist groups could possibly share the same strategic purpose. The answer would likely escape the awareness of the fighters as well, and it certainly escapes the awareness of most Canadians, whose tax dollars are supporting the terrorists. But the answer isn’t that complicated.

Consider the similarities between the two groups:

  • Both groups seek to illegally “impose their will” on Syria, and are effectively destroying Syria, contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of Syrians[1]
  • Both groups seek to partition Syria
  • Both groups require and receive support from the same aggressor nations
  • Both groups engage in activities that are illegal under international law and punishable according to Nuremburg Principles

ISIS/Daesh serves the military strategy of “place-setter”[2], as outlined in an earlier article. Empire first infests an area with terrorists, then destroys the area, using the fake pretext of “going after terrorists”, subsequently, it channels the original terrorists elsewhere, and then replaces the former terrorists with new terrorist occupiers who are portrayed as “liberators”.

Syrian journalist Nasser Atta describes the following video as an ISIS convoy “carrying 4500 fighters and their families leaving Raqqa a month ago after an agreement with US-backed Kurdish forces”:

The West, their allies, and their proxies are not wanted in Syria. They are the problem, not the solution. Their foreign “interventions” in Syria amount to war crimes as policy.

Notes

[1] TESEV (2012) ‘The perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2011’, TürkiyeEkonomikveSosyalEtüdlerVakfi, Istanbul, February, online: http://tesev.org.tr/en/yayin/ the-perception-of-turkey-in- the-middle-east-2011/ Accessed 17 November, 2017

[2] Mark Taliano, “The Islamic State as “Place-Setter” for the American Empire. ISIS is the Product of the US Military-Intelligence Complex.” Global Research, 26 October, 2017.  (https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-islamic-state-as-place-setter-for-u-s-empire-isis-is-the-product-of-the-us-military-intelligence-complex/5606371). Accessed 11 November, 2017

Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2017

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Pseudo-leftists Explain the Failure of the ‘Syrian Revolution’

By Tim Anderson | Global Research | November 16, 2017

Some western “Liberals” and “Leftists” pay homage to Yassin al-Haj Saleh, an intellectual leftist of the ‘Syrian Revolution’. In fact Saleh represented only a tiny part of Syria’s left. He was ‘persecuted’ because he aligned himself with the 1980 and 2011 bloody uprisings by the sectarian Muslim Brotherhood, and their international Salafist (al Qaeda) supporters. In the end he had to flee for his life from those same sectarian terrorists.

With popular forces in Syria and Iraq destroying the globalised sectarian jihadist mercenaries – sponsored principally by Washington and the Saudis – some ideologues in colonial cultures still keep alive the romantic idea of a ‘Syrian Revolution’, that somehow tragically failed. This is also a myth propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood and their western sponsors, to cover an otherwise naked aggression against Syria.

It is a myth that matters much less now, as such propaganda no longer has the capacity to fuel deeper NATO intervention in Syria. Yet it seems important for the self-image of small groups of western pseudo-leftists, who committed themselves to the cause of ‘red-washing’ Washington’s latest war of aggression, backed by the most reactionary forces in the region.

By pseudo-leftist I mean those fanatic ideologues who cling to their fantasies, showing little interest in what the masses of ordinary people want. Those ‘Syrian Revolution’ fans betrayed the Syrian people, just as they betrayed the people of Libya, Cuba and many other  small countries, when under attack from the big powers.

But imagine the western pseudo-leftist’s delight on meeting an apparently like-minded individual Syrian. Enter Yassin al-Haj Saleh, author and proud backer of what he imagined might be a socialist revolution in Syria. His aptly titled book ‘The Impossible Revolution’ (Haymarket Books September 2017) spells out his failed dream and angry disillusionment. He claims to have been caught between “the hammer of Bashar al Assad’s counter-revolution and the anvil of his reactionary Islamic fundamentalist opponents”. On closer examination, his personal dilemmas seem entirely of his own making.

Saleh was jailed for 16 years (1980-96) under Hafez al Assad, for what he and his fans and publisher call ‘activism’. Does this mean ‘dissident’ or ‘peaceful protestor? In fact his party had aligned itself to the bloody and sectarian Muslim Brotherhood insurrections of 1979-1982. In this article I will discuss the implications of that decision.

Conditions in prison were terrible he says, but adds that he read “hundreds of books [and] … I learned more there than at university”. Not all prisons allow for such study. He had been a member of the Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau), and so boasts socialist credentials. In 2011 he joined the ‘revolution’, moving from East Ghouta to Raqqa. There, fearing DAESH in 2013 he left the country. He survived the ordeal and published his book in 2017.

His US publisher portrays Yassin Al-Haj Saleh as “the intellectual voice of the Syrian revolution”. In the book Saleh presents a bleak portrait – but one which will probably appeal to western cynicism – of “three monsters … treading on Syria’s corpse”:

(1) the Assad regime and its allies,

(2) DAESH/ISIS and the other jihadists, and

(3) the West (the USA, UK, France, etc).

In other words, a plague on all their houses. Such cynicism, if popular, is weak analysis.

We know from independent Turkish pollsters TESEV that, by the end of 2011, only 5% of Syrians supported ‘violent protest’, the lowest figure in the region (c.f. 33% in Tunisia and 31% in Palestine) (TESEV 2012: 15). The big influx of foreign jihadists in 2012 would have hardened views against jihadist violence. And we know that the Syrian Arab Army, after some relatively small defections in the first year, did not fracture on religious grounds, as the Salafists had hoped.

The key problems with promotion of a figure like Saleh, to keep afloat the romantic idea of a failed ‘revolution’, are these:

(a) the self-serving story hides who this new hero is and what forces in Syria he might represent;

(b) the idealistic narrative (for a ‘democratic and egalitarian Syria’, etc) hides the actual historical forces of the Syrian insurrections; and

(c) in particular, it whitewashes Saleh’s own foolish collaboration with sectarian Islamists.

Image result for Yassin Al-Haj Saleh

You don’t have to buy Saleh’s book, as most of his arguments appear in an extended interview with Ashley Smith, in the US journal International Socialist Review. Smith is a member of the US International Socialist Organization, a Trotskyist group drawing on the ideas of the late Tony Cliff.

Prominent among those ideas is Cliff’s theory of ‘state capitalism’, which suggests that there has never been a true ‘socialist’ revolution and that all capitalist and ‘state capitalist’ nation-states must be smashed and rebuilt. That line is quite consistent with support for attacks on any state, progressive or otherwise, as also with alliance with imperialism and reactionary forces to do so. To what extent that sort of Trotskyism is consistent with Saleh’s view is another matter.

However we know these things about Saleh. First, his Communist Party (Political Bureau) faction was a tiny ‘Maoist’ splinter from Syria’s main Communist Party, back in the late 1970s. The main reason for this split was that Saleh’s faction wanted to ‘form an alliance’ with the Muslim Brotherhood, as they engaged in a series of sectarian attacks on the Syrian state (Gambill 2001). Most Syrian communists sided with the Ba’ath socialist state. However Saleh and his former leader, Riyad al Turk, persisted in their subordinate ‘alliance’ with the al Qaeda linked Muslim Brotherhood, into the 2000s (Pace 2005).

What precisely was Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood doing, back in 1979? Let’s read it from the late British writer Patrick Seale:

“The artillery school massacre of June 1979 marked the start of full-scale urban warfare against Alawis [and] against Ba’ath party officials … when cornered they often blew themselves up with grenades … In Aleppo between 1979 and 1981 terrorists killed over 300 people, mainly Baathists and Alawis but including a dozen Islamic clergy who had denounced the murders” (Seale 1988: 324-325).

All the other opposition parties, including most communists, rejected the Muslim Brotherhood’s sectarian terror; but not Saleh’s sect. Collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists is why Saleh received a long jail term in 1980, not because he was simply an ‘activist’.

Muslim Brotherhood terror has been romanticised over the years. At the end of the 1979-1982 attacks a final Brotherhood insurrection at Hama city was put down by Hafez al Assad. Revisionist historians these days, including many western writers, claim there was a large ‘civilian massacre’ at Hama in May 1982. For example author Rafaël Lefèvre (2013: 77) credulously reports: “While initial reports suggested 10,000 civilians were killed, other reports put the number as high as 40,000”. This is poor revisionist history.

Seale (1988: 333-334) observes that Hama 1982 was a serious conflict, not a ‘civilian massacre’. The Hama insurrection “was a last ditch battle” for the Brotherhood and it “raged for three grim weeks … many civilians were slaughtered in the prolonged mopping up … in nearly a month of fighting about a third of the historic inner city was demolished”. On overall casualties he notes that “government forces too suffered heavy losses to snipers … and grenades”, while total losses of life were controversial even at the time, “with government sympathisers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000”.

The ‘civilian massacre’ mythology tries to hide the Brotherhood’s hand in initiating the violence, as recurred in Daraa and Homs in 2011. US intelligence back in 1982 had no such illusions. Of course the US had quietly backed those who financed and armed the Brotherhood’s attacks on Syria (the Saudis, the King of Jordan, Saddam Hussein and others). But Washington’s intelligence was dry and pragmatic, in its final assessment of May 1982:

“the Islamic Revolution in Syria, the Nom de Guerre for the Muslim Brotherhood … [spoke of] the rebels’ seizure of the city and the execution of some 50 “spies and informers” … about 3,000 government forces had been killed, according to the communique … the total casualties for the Hama incident probably number about 2,000. This includes an estimated 300-400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite Special Apparatus … the Syrian Government defeated the fundamentalist[s] … most Syrians, regardless of their difference with the present government, do not want the Muslim Brotherhood in power … [but] their modus operandi will continue to be terrorism, particularly bombings and assassination” (DIA 1982: 6-7).

Even if Saleh was young in 1980, most of the political prisoners with whom he shared prison time would have been Muslim Brotherhood. He was certainly not unaware of their approach to ‘revolution’ when he joined their next major insurrection in 2011. Indeed he says,

“When the [2011] revolution broke out I went into hiding … [and] while I was writing I was directly involved in the struggle” (Smith 2017).

His greatest claim to fame was to be one of the founders of the ‘Local Coordinating Councils’ (LCCs), indeed he says he was “the main author of the first political statement LCCs issued in June 2011” (Smith 2017). This tells us that the apparently secular language of the LCCs masked the faces of Muslim Brotherhood collaborators.

In any case, we know that the LCCs were little more than a fig leaf on the thoroughly sectarian insurrection, dominated by Syrian Muslim Brotherhood groups until 2012. Then they were displaced from leadership by their international jihadist partners, in the form of Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria, set up as a support group for the Syrian Salafis) and DAESH / ISIS, an outreach of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). As I wrote in my book The Dirty War on Syria (Anderson 2016: 83-84), the LCCs were seen as having a mainly media or PR role in 2011 (Asi Abu Najm 2011) and, by 2013, they were embedded with the Islamist groups, mainly reporting on jihadist casualties (LCC 2013).

Yassin al-Haj Saleh says he fled from East Ghouta to Raqqa, before leaving the country. However his early presence in Douma (East Ghouta) demonstrates how reliant he had become on his Salafist partners. For many years Douma had been dominated by Jaysh al Islam, in alliance with Jabhat al Nusra. Although the civilian population there has been decimated, from many thousands fleeing the conflict, it remains one of the few areas in Syria with a social base for sectarian extremists. The same can be said about Raqqa. Both areas had a strong, reactionary culture, with women in burkas and families preferring to send their children to a Salafist-led mosque than to school.

The US certainly knew from early days that this ‘revolution’ (1) was being led by extremists and (2) wanted to create a sectarian Islamic state in eastern Syria. US intelligence in August 2012 observed that “Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria … there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality [i.e. Islamic State] in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what [the US and its allies] want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime” (DIA 2012 in Hoff 2015).

Washington knew it and most Syrians knew it. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March 2011, which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian and their target was what they perceived as a secular state. The enemy was “the secular regime”, he said, and Brotherhood members “have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success” (Al-Shaqfa 2011).

International jihadists, in the form of Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) appeared in Homs in early 2011, specifically to help the Farouq Brigade (then the largest ‘FSA’ group) with its infamous genocidal slogan ‘Alawis to the tomb, Christians to Beirut’ and genocidal practice: the sectarian murder of supposedly apostate Muslims and the ethnic cleaning of Christians. Those slogans and practice were reported as early as 5 April 2011 (Farrell 2011) and in the New York Times in May (Shadid and Kirkpatrick 2011).

Tens of thousands of Syrian Christians from Homs were indeed driven to Beirut (CNA 2012). Claims that the “Assad regime” was behind the sectarianism were simply dishonest. Whatever their views of the Ba’athist system, most Syrians, and particularly the minorities, swung behind the Syrian state and the Syrian army very quickly.

As international jihadists (mainly from the Arab world, North Africa, the Caucasus and Europe) joined the Syrian Salafis in large numbers in mid-2012, even the western media began reporting that these were fanatics, not revolutionaries.

Well before DAESH / ISIS came across from Iraq to Syria the ‘Free Army’ leaders were complaining that the Syrian President had at least “70 percent” support in Aleppo (Bayoumy 2013); that the local people,

“all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us” (Abouzeid 2012); and that the people are “all informers … they hate us. They blame us for the destruction” (Ghaith 2012).

But, they went on to say, they had God on their side. James Foley, himself subject to a theatrical style execution by DAESH in 2014, reported two years earlier that the FSA ‘rebels’ had little public support. Indeed one leader promised Aleppo ‘would burn’, because the people there did not support the ‘revolution’ (Foley 2012).

Unpopularity is fatal to a revolution; to a religious fanatic it is merely inconvenient.

It is impossible that Saleh – an ideological fanatic, but an educated fanatic – did not know all this. Even if he himself was not an sectarian Islamist, he knew that the extreme sectarians with whom he collaborated in 1979 and again in 2011 were leading his ‘revolution’.

Saleh maintains his own self-serving myths about the conflict: that the ‘Assad regime’ was the source of sectarian violence, that Sunni Muslims and Kurds were oppressed, and that the US and its minions really supported the Assad Government. Saleh claims that the Obama administration (despite its repetitive and imperious ‘Assad must go’ demands) really wanted “regime preservation not regime change” (Saleh in Smith 2017).

It is hard to see how any reasonable person can take this seriously. We even have admissions from senior US officials, including former Vice President Biden and former head of the US military Martin Dempsey, that the ‘Arab Allies’ of the US financed every jihadist group from the ‘Free Army’ to DAESH / ISIS, precisely to get rid of Assad. More recently, former Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassim admitted that his little petro-state coordinated with Saudis, Turkey and the US to support all anti-Government jihadist forces (Syriana Analysis 2017).

Saleh’s former mentor, Riyad al Turk (who “liked” Saudi-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri), was calling for US military assistance in 2005 to help “the opposition” get rid of the Assad Government (Pace 2005). Of course he did not represent the Syrian Opposition. In the Damascus Declaration (2005), while making harsh criticisms of the Baathist system, most Syrian opposition groups specifically renounced violent attacks on the state and outside intervention. The Muslim Brotherhood and its hangers on, in contrast, always wanted violence with US and/or NATO assistance.

Saleh’s claim to fame as a secular communist against ‘the regime’ is undermined by how unrepresentative his small group was of Syria’s communists. He, like al Turk, criticises most other communists who “supported the regime” (Smith 2017). So how much support did his faction have? Al Turk maintained “we don’t announce how many members we have” (Pace 2005), but Gambill (2001) suggests it was “very little”.

Syria’s main Communist Party split in the mid-1980s (over Gorbachev’s policies), into two groups. Both stood candidates in the Peoples’ Congress (Majlis al Shaab) elections of 2007, 2012 and 2016, gaining 8, 11 and 4 MPs out of 250, respectively. That indicates that Syria’s main communist parties had electoral support of between 80,000 and 140,000 Syrian voters (IDEA 2017; Syrian Parliament 2017). We have no way of knowing how much support there ever was for the Communist Party (Political Bureau), or its successor the ‘Syrian Peoples Democratic Party’. But ask yourself, how many genuinely secular Marxists would collaborate with sectarian, al Qaeda styled Islamists?

The inescapable conclusion is that Saleh’s romanticised ideas failed and he was lucky to escape with his life. He certainly would have been in danger from both the Syrian Army and DAESH. But he and his tiny faction did not represent any significant part of the Syrian left. They were distinguished mainly by their collaboration with the Brotherhood groups and their al Qaeda allies, before they disappeared entirely from the scene.

After his successive failures Saleh blames everyone (Bashar al Assad, alQaeda/ISIS, the West) but himself. Yet it seems he has become a useful figure for western pseudo-leftists (who never could identify an actual Syrian armed group that they supported) to point at and say “Look, there really was a left revolution in Syria! Here he is!”

Pseudo-leftists in western countries – who for years held on to the Washington-promoted fiction of a ‘Syrian Revolution’ – are desperate for token Syrian ‘hero’ on which to hang their fantasies. That could be an ex-Islamist or an ex-communist; they don’t look too closely to see where these people come from. This desperation highlights their failure to confront actual history, and to care about the things that matter to ordinary people.

Sources

Abouzeid, Rania (2012) ‘Aleppo’s Deadly Stalemate: A Visit to Syria’s Divided Metropolis’, Time, 14 November, online: http://world.time.com/2012/11/ 14/aleppos-deadly-stalemate-a- visit-to-syrias-divided- metropolis/

Al-Shaqfa, Muhammad Riyad (2011) ‘Muslim Brotherhood Statement about the so-called ‘Syrian Revolution’’, General supervisor for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, statement of 28 March, online at: http://truthsyria.wordpress. com/2012/02/12/muslim- brotherhood-statement-about- the-so-called-syrian- revolution/

Amazon (2017) Promotion and reviews of Saleh’s book ‘The Impossible Revolution’, online: https://www.amazon.com/ Impossible-Revolution-Yassin- al-Haj-Saleh/dp/160846850X

Anderson, Tim (2016) The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, Montreal

Asi Abu Najm (2011) ‘Syria’s Coordination Committees: a Brief History’, Al Akhbar, 1 October, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/ node/764

Bayoumy, Yara (2013) ‘Insight: Aleppo misery eats at Syrian rebel support’, Reuters, 9 January, online: http://www.reuters.com/ article/2013/01/09/us-syria- crisis-rebels- idUSBRE9070VV20130109

CNA (2012) ‘Syrian violence drives 50,000 Christians from homes’, Catholic News Agency, online: http://www.catholicnewsagency. com/news/syrian-violence- drives-50000-christians-from- homes/

Damascus Declaration (2005) ‘The Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change’, English version in Joshua Landis blog Syria Comment, 1 November, online: http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/ Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/ 2005/11/damascus-declaration- in-english.htm

DIA (1982) ‘Syria: Muslim Brotherhood pressure intensifies’, Syria360, May, online: https://syria360.files. wordpress.com/2013/11/dia- syria- muslimbrotherhoodpressureinten sifies-2.pdf

Farrell, Shane (2011) ‘Lebanese Christians react to regional instability’, Now Media, 5 April, online: https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/ reportsfeatures/lebanese_ christians_react_to_regional_ instability

Foley, James (2012) ‘Syria: Rebels losing support among civilians in Aleppo’, PRI, 16 October, online: https://www.pri.org/stories/ 2012-10-16/syria-rebels- losing-support-among- civilians-aleppo

Gambill, Gary C. (2001) ‘Dossier: Riyad al Turk’, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Middle East Forum, Vol 3 No 9, September, online: https://www.meforum.org/meib/ articles/0109_sd1.htm

Ghaith, Abdul-Ahad (2012) ‘The people of Aleppo needed someone to drag them into the revolution’, The Guardian, 28 December, online: http://www.theguardian.com/ world/2012/dec/28/aleppo- revolution-abu-ali-sulaibi 

Hoff, Brad (2015) ‘2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”’, Levant Report, 19 May, online: https://levantreport.com/2015/ 05/19/2012-defense- intelligence-agency-document- west-will-facilitate-rise-of- islamic-state-in-order-to- isolate-the-syrian-regime/

IDEA (2017) ‘Syrian Arab republic, Total vote, Parliamentary elections, 1994-2016, online: https://www.idea.int/data- tools/question-countries-view/ 437/274/ctr

LCC (2013) ‘Dignity Strike … We make our revolution by our own hands’, Local Coordination Committees of Syria, December, online: http://www.lccsyria.org/3528

Lefèvre, Rafaël (2013) Ashes of Hama: the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, Hurst and Company, London

Pace, Joe (2005) ‘Riyad al Turk, interviewed by Joe Pace on Mehlis, the Opposition, Ghadry’, Joshua Landis Page, October 22, online: http://joshualandis.oucreate. com/syriablog/2005/10/riad-al- turk-interviewed-by-joe-pace. htm

Seale, Patrick (1988) Asad: the struggle for the Middle East, University of California Press, Berkeley

Shadid, Anthony and David D. Kirkpatrick (2011) ‘Promise of Arab Uprisings Is Threatened by Divisions’, New York Times, 21 May, online: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/ 05/22/world/middleeast/22arab. html?pagewanted=all

Smith, Ashley (2017) ‘Revolution, counterrevolution, and imperialism in Syria, Interview with Yassin al-Haj Saleh’, International Socialist Review, Issue #107 online: https://isreview.org/issue/ 107/revolution- counterrevolution-and- imperialism-syria

Syrian parliament (2017) Syrian Peoples’ Assembly, online: https://web.archive.org/web/ 20121008210031/http:// parliament.sy/forms/cms/ viewStatistics.php ; and Inter-Parliamentary Union (2016) ‘SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC: Majlis Al-Chaab (People’s Assembly)’, online: http://archive.ipu.org/ parline-e/reports/2307_E.htm; and as compiled in Wikipedia ‘Syrian parliamentary elections’ 2007 / 2012 / 2016, online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Syrian_parliamentary_election, _2007

Syriana Analysis (2017) ‘Hamad Bin Jassim: We Supported Al-Qaeda in Syria’, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9f33l30kQxg

TESEV (2012) ‘The perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2011’, Türkiye Ekonomik ve Sosyal Etüdler Vakfi, Istanbul, February, online: http://tesev.org.tr/en/yayin/ the-perception-of-turkey-in- the-middle-east-2011/

Copyright © Prof. Tim Anderson, Global Research, 2017

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Russia, Turkey, Iran meeting to discuss Syria strategy

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | November 17, 2017

In a historic development, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosting his Turkish and Iranian counterparts – Recep Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani – at a trilateral summit on November 22 in Sochi.

Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported that the meeting, the first of its kind between the three countries, will focus on Syria and the overall situation in the Middle East. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the leaders “will handle Astana [peace talks in the capital of Kazakhstan earlier this year] and the political transition process in Syria. They will make important evaluations.” This comes as an unexpected development but is not surprising. Simply put, the three countries share a profound sense of disquiet over Washington’s regional strategies and sense that an inflection point is being reached.

There has been some abrasive behavior by the US on the regional chessboard over the past week or two. For example, US Defence Secretary James Mattis disclosed on November 13 that his country’s military presence in Syria will continue even after ISIS is defeated. Russia promptly challenged the legitimacy of the US presence under international law. Russia, Turkey and Iran are opposed to a continued US presence in Syria. Turkey is particularly worried that a long-term alliance between the US and the Syrian Kurdish militia will complicate its own problem of Kurdish separatism.

Meanwhile, unnamed US State Department officials have claimed that Russia has assured the US that the Iranian militia and Hezbollah will leave Syria. Moscow then had to issue a denial through Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Linked to this is the Israeli demand that a buffer zone be created in the Golan Heights from which the Iranian militia or Hezbollah be excluded.

The US, meanwhile, has once again raked up the issue of the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, insisting that he cannot be part of any transition or elected government. The US has also questioned the raison d’etre of the Astana talks (involving Russia, Turkey and Iran) and insists that the focus should shift back to the Geneva process under UN supervision.

Ironically, it was when the Geneva process began meandering that Russia got Turkey and Iran over to Astana to painstakingly iron out their differences and work out a ceasefire in stages, and thereafter establish de-escalation zones to bring the war to an end.

The US feels excluded from the major achievements made in Astana to end the bloodshed in Syria. However, Washington was always welcome to join the process but chose to abstain. Washington has ruffled Russia’s feathers and Moscow has threatened to expose the US’s alleged covert dealings with ISIS. Unsurprisingly, Russian politicians have threatened to raise the matter at the UN.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Russian Defence Ministry openly alleged that the US military is impeding Russian air attacks on ISIS targets on the Syrian-Iraqi border and is indirectly enabling the terrorists to regroup. The Pentagon called it a Russian “lie.” At any rate, the very next day, six Russian Tupolov long-range bombers flew from bases in Russia via Iranian and Iraqi airspace to vanquish those ISIS targets in a massive air strike.

The US military is maneuvering on the Iraq-Syria border to bring the region under its control so that it will be in a position to create new facts on the ground and block a land route from Iran leading to the Levant.
Notably, the strong alliance with the Kurdish militia gives the US the wherewithal to influence events in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Indeed, oil and oil pipelines form an important vector of the geopolitics, too.

The “dogfight under a carpet” in US politics is complicating matters for Moscow. The Russians don’t have an interlocutor in Washington – something they never lacked even in the darkest periods of the Cold War.
Suffice to say, the latest developments in Lebanon have created dark forebodings of a regional war. Unsurprisingly, Russia, Turkey and Iran must be feeling the need to coordinate their efforts to push back at the US.

Both Turkey and Iran estimate that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s seemingly irrational behavior has a pattern. They suspect a script was worked out by Israel and the Trump administration with the objective of creating quagmires for Ankara and Tehran.

Earlier this week, Erdogan openly ridiculed the crown prince from an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) platform and questioned whether he was qualified to differentiate “moderate Islam” from the extremist form. The simmering discord between the erstwhile Caliph and the Custodian of the Holy Places who succeeded him (on the debris of the Ottoman Empire) surged into view. Equally, Iran can see that the Saudis are encouraging Israel to attack Lebanon. In fact, Rouhani openly spoke about it on Wednesday.

The trilateral summit in Sochi next week is most likely Erdogan’s idea. He traveled to Sochi to meet Putin on Monday en route to Kuwait and Qatar. While in Doha, Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey’s military support to the emir.

Indeed, all this is playing out against the backdrop of the snowballing crises in the US’s bilateral relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon FM: Hariri crisis ‘part of attempt to create chaos’

Press TV – November 17, 2017

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says the crisis over the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is part of an “attempt to create chaos in the region.”

Speaking in Moscow on Friday, Bassil said Lebanon has the “full powers” to respond to the crisis, but hoped this would not be necessary.

“We will respond and we have the full powers to do that, but we hope it doesn’t come to that,” he said.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said that Hariri, who resigned as prime minister on Nov. 4, is being detained in Saudi Arabia against his will – despite the premier’s reassurances he would return home soon.

On Friday, a senior Hariri aide was quoted as saying that Hariri will see France’s president on Saturday in Paris and the meeting will help resolve the Lebanese crisis and boost stability.

Bassil has been touring European capitals to lobby for Hariri’s return. On Thursday, he warned that Lebanon should not be treated as a plaything by any country.

“Lebanon is not a toy in others’ hands,” the Lebanese foreign minister said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin.

Gabriel said he shared concerns about the threat of instability and bloodshed in Lebanon and, without mentioning Saudi Arabia directly, warned against the “adventurism” behind the Lebanon crisis and the “human tragedy in Yemen.”

“We expect that Prime Minister Hariri can come back to Beirut,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since 2015 to restore its Riyadh-allied government, killing many thousands in the process.

Bassil, for his part, said, the “Hariri issue is actually a matter of Lebanon’s sovereignty,” and called on Arab countries to “not interfere with Lebanon’s internal matters.”

The Lebanese foreign minister also said further turmoil in his country, which is already hosting thousands of refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Syria, would create a new influx of asylum seekers to Europe.

Bassil also visited Turkey on Thursday and is to travel to Russia on Friday, where he is about to meet with Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov.

At a joint presser with Bassil, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Hariri’s “immediate” return.

“We support Lebanon’s unity, integrity and stability, and we oppose any development that would risk Lebanon’s stability,” he said.

“Lebanon does not need any other problems. On the contrary, we need to contribute to the solution of the existing problems.”

Bassil also held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Lebanon FM Reveals Attempt to Intimidate Country Into Canceling Russian Gas Deal

Sputnik – 17.11.2017

Lebanese Foreign Minister Geral Bassil has held a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We are about to sign our first contract on gas field exploration on the shelf with the participation of Russian companies. We are now seeing an attempt to make Lebanon leave this positive path,” Geral Bassil said.

“A campaign to scare Lebanon, to create obstacles in its path with the use of terrorist forces under different pretexts is underway,” the minister said, adding that “the campaign against Lebanon is being carried out by the same forces that support terrorists in Syria.”

At the same time, according to Bassil, Lebanon wanted to preserve good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the surprise resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“We never took any diplomatic steps that would escalate the situation,” Bassil said.

The top diplomat said that “some parties” to the conflict were trying to displace the head of the country from his office, adding that he expected Hariri to return to the country following his visit to France.

“We hope that Russia will continue building up its influence in the Middle East in order to form a balance of powers in the region,” Bassil added.

According to the minister, Beirut will respond to any attempt of interference in its internal affairs, stressing that the country’s sovereignty cannot be “bought and sold.”

For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “we are interested in Lebanon being safe and with the effective participation of all branches of power. And the most important thing, we support the resolution of all urgent issues by the Lebanese themselves without any external interference.”

The Lebanese Crisis

Previously, Moscow has voiced concern over the shock resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and urged all external forces that could influence the situation in Lebanon to show restraint and constructive approaches.

The situation in Lebanon escalated two weeks ago when then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a video address made from Saudi Arabia. The former minister expressed fears that he could be assassinated, like his father, in Lebanon, as well as accusing Tehran and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement of alleged attempts to destabilize the situation in the country and the Middle East, a claim strongly denied by the Islamic Republic as groundless.

While Lebanese President Michel Aoun has been accusing Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri and his family, Riyadh has strongly denied the claims as “groundless.” Hariri himself has repeatedly reiterated his intention to return to Lebanon in the next few days after his planned trip to France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron, saying that he is “perfectly fine.”

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia and Israel Know They Cannot Defeat Iran, Want to Drag the US into an Uncontainable War

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | November 13, 2107

There is considerable confusion about what is occurring in the Middle East, to include much discussion of whether Israel and Saudi Arabia have formally agreed to combine forces to increase both military and economic pressure on Iran, which both of them see as their principal rival in the region. During the past week, a classified message sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to all its diplomatic missions worldwide that appears to confirm that possibility was obtained and leaked by senior reporter Barak Ravid of Israel’s highly respected Channel 10 News.

The cable instructs Israeli diplomats to take coordinated steps designed to discredit the activities of the Iranian government. It states, in edited-for-brevity translation, that overseas missions should contact their host countries to emphasize that the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri over Iranian attempts to take over his country “illustrate once again the destructive nature of Iran and Hezbollah and their danger to the stability of Lebanon and the countries of the region;” that the argument that having Hezbollah in the Lebanese government provides stability is false and only serves to “promote the interests of a foreign power – Iran;” and that the launch of a ballistic missile from Yemen against Saudi Arabia confirms the need for “increased pressure on Iran and Hezbollah on a range of issues from the production of ballistic missiles to regional subversion.”

The Foreign Ministry message has been interpreted as “proof” that Israel and Saudi Arabia are coordinating to provoke a war against Iran as Israel is taking positions in support of Saudi claims, to include those relating to the confused conflict taking place in Yemen. My own take is, however, somewhat different. Having seen literally hundreds of similar U.S. State Department messages, I would regard the Israeli cable as consisting of specific “talking points” for use with foreign governments. Though it is clear that Tel Aviv and Riyadh have been secretly communicating over the past two years regarding their perception of the Iranian threat, it would be an exaggeration to claim that they have a coordinated position or some kind of alliance since they differ on so many other issues. They do, however, have common interests that are in this case aligned regarding the Iranians since both Israel and Saudi Arabia aspire to dominance in their region and only Iran stands in their way.

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel know they cannot defeat Iran and its proxies without the active participation of the United States. That would require shaping the “threat” narrative to start with a series of relatively minor military actions that appear defensive or non-controversial to draw the United States in without really appearing to do so. American involvement would be against Washington’s own interests in the region but it would serve Saudi and Israeli objectives, particularly if the situation is inherently unstable and is allowed to escalate. Both the Saudis and, more particularly, the Israelis have powerful lobbies in Washington that will push a friendly Congress for increased U.S. involvement and the Iranophobic mainstream media is likely to be similarly positive in helping to shape the arguments for American engagement.

It seems clear that the escalation will be starting in Lebanon, where the resignation of Prime Minister al-Hariri has created a plausible instability that can be exploited by Israel supported by heavy pressure from the Saudis to harden the Lebanese government line against Hezbollah. Hariri headed a coalition pulled together in 2016 that included nearly all of Lebanon’s main parties, including Hezbollah. It took office in a political deal that made Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who has an understanding with Hezbollah, president. The inclusion of Hezbollah and the presence of a friendly Aoun was, at the time, seen as a victory for Iran.

By one account, Hariri has been more-or-less kidnapped by the Saudis because he was regarded as too accommodating to the Shi’ites in Lebanon and, if that is so, he was speaking from Riyadh’s script when he resigned while denouncing Iran and Hezbollah and claiming that he fled because he was about to be assassinated. It suggests that the Saudis and Israelis, who have been hyperbolically claiming that Tehran is about to take control of much of the Middle East, are feeling confident enough to move towards some kind of showdown with Iran. As a first step, expected deteriorating sectarian interaction between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims in Lebanon to eliminate any possibility of a bipartisan and functioning government will provide a pretext for staged intervention to “stabilize” the situation.

The United States has been largely silent but presumably privately approving the Israeli and Saudi moves, as Washington, Riyadh and Tel Aviv have all adamantly opposed the existence of the Lebanese coalition dominated by Aoun and Hezbollah’s Nasrullah. Israeli fighter aircraft will likely increase incursions into Lebanese airspace in light of the alleged instability north of the border, which will provoke a Lebanese response escalating into an incident that will lead to a major attack to bring the Beirut government down, though Israel will have to be careful to avoid a possible mass counter-strike by Hezbollah missiles. The ultimate objective might be to create a Saudi and Israeli inspired grand alliance, which might be a fantasy, to pushback Iranian influence in the entire region. Lebanon’s Hezbollah, opposed by the Saudis because it is Shi’a and by Israel because of its missile arsenal would be conveniently targeted as the first marker to fall.

There is every sign that the White House will go along with Riyadh and Tel Aviv in their attempts to rollback Iranian influence, starting in Lebanon, given the recent failure to certify the nuclear agreement with Iran and the comments of Generals Mattis and McMaster suggesting that war with the Mullahs is likely. It would be a grave misjudgment to think that such a war, once started, will be containable, but it is a mistake that Washington repeats over and over again in places like Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

November 13, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 3 Comments

Arab states spent $130bn to destroy Syria, Libya, Yemen: Algerian PM

Press TV – November 12, 2017

Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia says some regional Arab states have spent $130 billion to obliterate Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Ouyahia made the remarks on Saturday at a time when much of the Middle East and North Africa is in turmoil, grappling with different crises, ranging from terrorism and insecurity to political uncertainty and foreign interference.

Algeria maintains that regional states should settle their differences through dialog and that foreign meddling is to their detriment.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since 2011. Takfirism, which is a trademark of many terrorist groups operating in Syria, is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia.

Libya has further been struggling with violence and political uncertainty since the country’s former ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011 and later killed in the wake of a US-led NATO military intervention. Daesh has been taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.

Yemen has also witnessed a deadly Saudi war since March 2015 which has led to a humanitarian crisis.

Last Month, Qatar’s former deputy prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said the United Arab Emirates had planned a military invasion of Qatar with thousands of US-trained mercenaries.

The UAE plan for the military action was prepared before the ongoing Qatar rift, but it was never carried out as Washington did not give the green light to it, he noted.

In late April, reports said the UAE was quietly expanding its military presence into Africa and the Middle East, namely in Eritrea and Yemen.

November 12, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia alleges citizen kidnapped in Lebanon

MEMO | November 11, 2017

Saudi Arabia said on Friday a Saudi citizen had been kidnapped in Lebanon, a country with which it is in a diplomatic crisis.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have advised their citizens against travelling to Lebanon and urged those already there to leave, as tensions rise in what is seen as a new front line in the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Top Lebanese government officials have said they believe Saudi Arabia is holding Saad al-Hariri who resigned as Lebanese prime minister from there last weekend. Riyadh says Hariri is a free man and he decided to resign because Iran-allied Hezbollah was calling the shots in his government.

The Saudi embassy in Beirut announced the kidnap of one of its citizens, but gave no details of the person’s identity of the circumstances of the abduction.

“The embassy is in contact with the highest ranking Lebanese security authorities about securing the unconditional release of a kidnapped Saudi citizen as soon as possible,” it said in a statement quoted by the Saudi state news agency SPA.

Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on the Lebanese state news agency the safety of Saudi residents and visitors was a priority for the Lebanese authorities.

He added that “security services are on high alert to prevent any attempt of exploiting the current political situation from anyone and for whatever reason.”

“Tampering with the security and stability of Lebanon is a red line.”

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia’s Desperate Gamble

By Alastair Crooke | Consortium News | November 10, 2107

It is always tempting. The Syrian war is coming to an end, and the losses to those who bet on the losing side – suddenly in the glare of the end-game – become an acute and public embarrassment. The temptation is to brush the losses aside and with a show of bravado make one last bet: the masculine “hero” risks his home and its contents on a last spin of the wheel. Those in attendance stand in awed silence, awaiting the wheel to slow, and to trickle the ball forward, slot by slot, and to observe where it comes to rest, be it on black, or on the blood-red of tragedy.

Not only in romances, but in life, too. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has wagered all on black, with his “friends” – President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) and Trump himself daring MbS on. Trump, in his business life, once or twice has staked his future on the spin of the wheel. He too has gambled and admits to the exhilaration.

And in the shadows, at the back of the gaming room, stands Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. The idea of going to the casino was his, in the first place. If the hero lands on black, he will share in the joy, but if it is red … never mind: Bibi’s home is not forfeit.

Let us be clear, MbS is severing all the various fetters that hold the Saudi kingdom together and intact. Saudi Arabia is not just a family business: it is also a confederation of tribes. Their diverse interests were attended to, primordially, through the composition of the National Guard, and its patronage. The latter henceforth reflects, no longer, the kingdom’s diverse tribal affiliations, but the security interests of one man, who has seized it for himself.

Ditto for the various cadet branches of the al-Saud family: the carefully judged sharing out of spoils amongst the many family claimants is finished. One man is clearing the table of everybody’s smaller stakes. He has snapped the wires connecting the Court to the Saudi business élite – and is slowly slicing away the Wahhabi religious establishment, too. They have been effectively kicked out of the partnership, which they founded jointly with ibn Saud, the first monarch of Saudi Arabia who ruled during the first half of the last century, also known as King Abdul Aziz. In short, no one has a stake left in this enterprise, but MbS – and no one it seems, has rights, or redress.

Why? Because MbS sees the Saudi political and religious leadership of the Arab world slipping, like sand, through the king’s fingers, and he cannot bear the thought that Iran (and the despised Shi’a), could be the inheritor.

Transforming Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia, therefore, has to be transformed from a sleepy, declining kingdom, into an instrument for blunting Iranian power. This, naturally resonates with an American President who seems, too, more and more preoccupied with reasserting U.S. prestige, deterrence and power in the world (rather than adhering to the non-interventionist narrative of the Campaign). At The American Conservative’s conference in Washington last week, editor Robert Merry, a staunch realist and prolific author, mourned that: “There is no realism and restraint in American foreign policy in the Trump era.”

All wars are costly, and money is needed (and is being seized accordingly through MbS’s arrest of his rivals on corruption charges). But Saudi Arabia traditionally (since the Eighteenth Century), has waged all its power struggles via one particular (and effective) tool: fired-up Wahhabi jihadism. And that, in the wake of the Syrian debacle, lies discredited, and no longer available.

So now, Saudi Arabia has to craft a new instrument, with which to confront Iran: and the Crown Prince’s choice is truly ironic: “moderate Islam” and Arab nationalism (to counter non-Arab Iran and Turkey).  Mohammad Abd-el Wahhab must be turning in his grave: “moderate” Islam in his rigorous doctrine, led only to idolatry (such as that practiced by the Ottomans), and which, in his view, should be punished by death (see here).

In fact, this is the riskier part of MbS’s gamble (though seizing Prince Walid bin Talal’s mammoth fortune has grabbed most attention). King Abdel Aziz faced armed rebellion, and another king was assassinated for departing from the Wahhabist principles on which the state was founded – and for embracing westernized modernity (viewed by pure Wahhabis as idolatry).

The gene of Wahhabist fervor cannot be exorcised from Saudi society by simply commanding it gone. (Abdul Aziz finally only overcame it, by machine gunning its adherents, dead).

But, embracing “moderate Islam” (i.e. secular Islam), and threatening to confront Iran, probably was done with one eye on wooing President Trump to support MbS’s ousting of his cousin, Prince Naif, as Crown Prince – and the other eye on the P.R. potential to portray Iran as “extremist” Islam to a White House whose world view of the Middle East has been shaped by Bibi Netanyahu whispering in the ear of Jared Kushner, and by the prejudices of a circle of advisers disposed to see Iran in terms of one singular understanding, rather than in its diverse aspects. Netanyahu must be congratulating himself on his clever ploy.

Netanyahu’s Coup

No doubt about it: it has been a coup for Netanyahu. The question though, is whether it will turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory, or not: whichever it is, it is highly dangerous to throw grenades into combustible material. This U.S.-Israeli-Saudi-UAE project is, at bottom, an attempt to overturn reality, no less – it is rooted in a denial of the setback suffered by these states by their multiple failures to shape a New Middle East in the Western mode. Now, in the wake of their failure in Syria – in which they went to the limits in search of victory – they seek another spin of the roulette wheel – in the hope of recouping all their earlier losses. It is, to say the least, a capricious hope.

On the one hand, Iran’s strength across the northern Middle East is not tentative. It is now well rooted. Iran’s “strategic space” includes Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen – and increasingly – Turkey. Iran has played a major role in defeating ISIS, together with Russia. It is a “strategic partner” of Russia, while Russia now enjoys broad sway across the region. In a word, the political heft lies with the north, rather than with the weakened, southern tier.

If there be some notion that Russia might be induced to “rein in” Iran and its allies across the region to mollify Israeli concerns, this smacks of wishful thinking. Even if Russia could (and it probably cannot), why should it? How then will Iran be rolled-back? By military action? This, too, seems a stretch.

Israel’s military and security echelon, in the wake of the 2006 war on Lebanon, is likely only to contemplate a war (with anyone other than Palestinians), that is short (six days or less); does not result in heavy Israeli civilian or military casualties; and can be won at a low cost. Ideally, Israel would also expect full American buy-in (unlike in 2006). The Pentagon has little appetite for putting boots on the ground again in the Middle East, and Israelis are aware of this. And Saudi Arabia alone, cannot threaten anyone militarily (as Yemen has amply demonstrated).

Can Saudi Arabia squeeze Lebanon economically and impose political pressure on any Lebanese government? Of course: but economic pressure likely will hurt the Sunni, middle and business classes, harder than the 44 percent of the Lebanese population who are Shi’a. Generally, the Lebanese have an aversion to external interference, and American sanctions and pressures will be more likely to unite Lebanon than divide it. (This is the old, old story of imposed sanctions.) And at a guess, the Europeans will neither willingly support the de-stabilization of Lebanon nor the abandonment of JCPOA, the 2015 agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

So what may be the outcome? At a guess, Saudi Arabia, already a society with many repressed tensions, may simply implode under the new repression (or MbS might somehow be “removed” before the tensions combust). America and Israel will not emerge strengthened, but rather will be viewed as less relevant to the Middle East.

Robert Malley, the former Middle East adviser in the last administration, warns of the danger of a potential regional explosion: “Fear is the one thing preventing it—but could also precipitate it.”

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment